Michael's Dispatches Michael's Dispatches

Sergeant Godsmack vs. Nazar

64 Comments

Panjway-US-forces-8545cc1000

27 March 2012

PTSD is a serious problem.  Suicides by veterans happen many times per day, every day.  At best, PTSD can degrade the quality of life of veterans and their families.  At worst, unmanaged, the human toll is incalculable.

Other problems with “military PTSD:”

1) PTSD for profit: Disability payments.  Profiteers learn the symptoms, mimic, and then get paid, often for life.  Most symptoms are self-reported, in response to interview questions by military or Veterans Administration (VA) professionals.  Chaplains also serve as a resource.  The PTSD mockingbirds, the fakes, often sing to chaplains, to establish a precedent for later favorable diagnosis.

Read more: Sergeant Godsmack vs. Nazar

Panjway, Afghanistan: Amphitheater of War

14 Comments

Untitled-1000For a larger view please click on image or one of the links below.

23 March 2012

This panorama was made in the general area where the Panjway 17 massacre unfolded.  The view is over the Arghandab River Valley, a place that Canadian and many US forces know well.  The Arghandab can be an interesting place to watch war; there are many vantage points such as this that allow you to witness much fighting.  Sometimes you are in the middle.  The area can be an interactive combat amphitheater.

Panjway Panorama Link: http://gigapan.org/gigapans/101311

I made the 27 photos in this pano in a handheld mode while tagging along with members of the Central Asia Development Group (CADG) who were implementing a water project. We were without troops.  CADG operates freely in some of the most hostile areas of Afghanistan where troops would not go without significant force. This is one of those places.

Read more: Panjway, Afghanistan: Amphitheater of War

Alcohol in Afghanistan

22 Comments

19 March 2012

There are reports that alcohol was involved in the Panjway 16.  There are also reports that alcohol was not involved.

Since 2005, I've only seen two Soldiers truly drunk on missions during about three years with combat troops.  Both were in Iraq.  One Soldier was enlisted, and the other was an officer not in the US military.  Both were absolutely drunk.

The American Soldier—there was a raid and an IED that night—told me that his wife would ship Vodka in mouthwash bottles and she added food coloring as disguise.  The officer was different; his military was allowed alcohol but not to get drunk.

Alcohol was readily available in Iraq through many sources.  Christians in Iraq often had liquor stores.  Muslims were not allowed to sell it, but many liked to drink, as did the Christians.  Some Iraqis complained about Christians fleeing neighborhoods because their liquor stores closed.

Read more: Alcohol in Afghanistan

Sir Petraeus

19 Comments

16 March 2012

This has been secret until a few minutes ago.  The Dutch Minister of Defense just knighted General (ret.) Petraeus in the Hague.  I was invited to go but could not make it, unfortunately.

Major RED FLAG: Military Cover-up in Afghanistan

36 Comments

16 March 2012

Info just coming out that a 22-year-old Marine was murdered on 01 Feb, about 6 weeks ago, in another insider attack.  The military covered it up as if it were combat operations.  Lance Cpl. Edward J. Dycus of Greenville, Mississippi was shot in the back of the head by an Afghan soldier.  Our people immediately turned over the murderer to the Afghans.

That's a huge Red Flag on numerous levels.  How many other "combat deaths" have been caused by insider attacks, and how often has our military covered it up?  How many murderers have been turned over to Afghans?  What happens when we turn over a killer to Afghans?

We've taken about 200 Coalition casualties that we know of from insider attacks.  How many do we not know of?  This cover-up is rotten from head to tail.

Libya Spot Report

6 Comments

image002-1000

16 March 2012

An experienced friend is currently in Tripoli and writes:

I’m telling you, you should get your butt over here to Libya - it’s a really interesting place.  I know everyone’s mind is on Afghanistan these days, but there’s really no comparison. The two countries could not be more different – at least from what I can see here in Tripoli.

Read more: Libya Spot Report

Insurgents Used Cell Phone Geotags to Destroy AH-64s in Iraq

2 Comments

Armycellpic-1000

15 March 2012
The original posting of this article can be found on Defensetech at Military.com

"Here’s a battlefield safety issue that some people have been warning about –and others have been ignoring —  for a while now; an enemy using social media and cellphone geotagging to identify the precise location of troops on a battlefield.

"When you take a photo with your cellphone, the gps coordinates of the location you took the picture is embedded into the image. When you upload said photo onto the internet for all to see, people can pull the location data from that picture. If you think this is just people being paranoid and that the Taliban would never do this in Afghanistan, think again. Insurgents figured out how to use this to their advantage in Iraq years ago. In 2007, a group of Iraqi insurgents used geotags to destroy several American AH-64 Apache choppers sitting on a flightline in Iraq.

From an Army press release warning of the dangers of geotags:

When a new fleet of helicopters arrived with an aviation unit at a base in Iraq, some Soldiers took pictures on the flightline, he said. From the photos that were uploaded to the Internet, the enemy was able to determine the exact location of the helicopters inside the compound and conduct a mortar attack, destroying four of the AH-64 Apaches.

"During Israel’s 2006 war in southern Lebanon with Iranian-backed militia (more like a full on army) Hezbollah, Iranian SIGINT professionals tracked signals coming from personal cell phones of Israeli soldiers to identify “assembly points of Israeli troops that may have telegraphed the points of offensive thrusts into Lebanon.”

"This is just one more example of low-end cyber warfare that can be as deadly as expensive software worms designed to infiltrate an enemy’s most heavily defended networks."

More Mass Murders in Afghanistan

27 Comments

15 March 2012

Got this message from former Marine Tim Lynch, in Afghanistan.  Tim's not always polite, but he's a former infantry officer and I listen to him very closely:

"The Taliban killed 13 women and children today with an IED in Uruzgan and I think they got 8 yesterday - but that's all cool here because they're the Taliban and we're the big fat retarded kid on the block who gets bullied everyday but still shows up to fork over even more lunch money while assuming at some point everyone will like us because we're so xxxxx generous."

The Panjway 16

21 Comments

15 March 2012

The New York Daily News asked for an op-ed on the mass murder in Afghanistan.  I invested several hours writing and they took it as is. As per normal, they changed the title.  Practically every publication does this to suit their specific readership, and that’s fine.  But on my website we can stick with the original title,

“The Panjway 16.”

image-1000Are some in the American forces buckling under the pressure of war?

The mass murder in Afghanistan was predictable. Twice in the past three weeks, I published that it was coming. Why was I able to write this with sad confidence? I’ve spent more time with combat troops in these wars than any other writer: about four years in total in country, and three with combat troops.

About 200 coalition members have been killed or wounded from insider attacks. Afghan President Hamid Karzai is tantamount to being Taliban and has not bothered to apologize. Instead, Karzai whips up anti-U.S. fervor at every opportunity. Twice, Karzai has threatened to leave politics and join the Taliban.

Read more: The Panjway 16

Curses

6 Comments

Boomslangphoto-6-1000Austin Prince, about 12 years, with cobra

12 March 2012

Under my dispatch from Bangladesh: Tigers, Crocodiles, Korans and Superstitions was this comment:

Michael,

We have friends who are missionaries in the Congo. So far this year, they've killed 72 Cobras in their home. The wife told me; "It's beginning to get a little unnerving."

James F. McClellan

And so I called Mr. McClellan’s friends, Brandt and Pamela Prince down in Congo.  Actually, they are not in Congo but the DRC, the Democratic Republic of Congo, a huge country in Central Africa.  DRC is about the size of the US east of the Mississippi.

Read more: Curses

Purple Heart

12 Comments

image001-1000PFC Leah Bartlett awarded Purple Heart

09 March 2012

Reaction to the recent Koran burnings led to dozens of killings.  Some of the attacks were obviously related to the burnings, while others may have been normal background noise of war.  Whatever the specific motivations, bombs still explode hard, and bullets still fly fast.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for a blast in Nangarhar Province:

Read more: Purple Heart

Senator Levin on MEDEVAC

20 Comments

07 March 2012

Senator Carl Levin has been sending a form letter to his constituents.  Key parts of the letter seem to be have been written by the Army.  At minimum, Senator Levin’s responses are a rewrite of Army releases.   His statement perpetuates numerous myths and outright falsehoods.  Carl Levin is Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.  Oversight is his duty.  If Senator Levin independently researched the Army statements, he would know that they contain falsehoods.

The letter [along with my comments in brackets]:

Dear [Deleted]:
 
Thank you for contacting me about the U.S. Army’s medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) policy.  I appreciate hearing your views on this matter.
 
Following the September 18, 2011, death of Army Specialist Chazray Clark in Afghanistan, concerns were raised about the Army’s MEDEVAC helicopter policy.  The specific circumstances of Specialist Clark’s death are the subject of an ongoing investigation.  For force protection reasons, all helicopters in Afghanistan fly in pairs, and the responsible in-theater commander makes the decision to use an armed escort for the MEDEVAC helicopter based on an appropriate tactical and risk assessment of each situation.

Read more: Senator Levin on MEDEVAC

MEDEVAC Momentum: Senate Armed Services Committee to Raise the Issue

15 Comments

01 March 2012

The MEDEVAC issue continues with increasing seriousness.  Numerous Generals, the Secretary of the Army, and the Secretary of Defense (through General Dempsey, the Chairman of Joint Chiefs) have all weighed into the fight.  Seventeen members of Congress have joined, and more expressed interest in the past 48 hours in correspondence to me.  I’ve just spent several hours personally answering many correspondences from offices of Members of Congress.

Two Senators, McCain and Manchin (both members of SASC) are stepping into the ring.  Major media from CBS to FOX to AP and many others have done major pieces and more attention is on the way.

Rick Clay emails:

“I have some good news. I spoke to Senator Manchin and Senator McCain today. They are going to bring our issue up in an Armed Services Committee hearing March 5th during the Army Posturing Hearing and request a follow-up during the Afghanistan Hearing on March 25th. They are going to send me the link so we can watch the hearing.”

http://armed-services.senate.gov/members.htm

Sisters at War

15 Comments

29 February 2012

This is a small tribute to our women in harm’s way.

We constantly argue about whether or not women should be allowed in combat.  Reality is that they have been in combat for longer than anyone reading this has been alive, and they were in combat before any of our great grandmothers were born.

I’ve personally seen women in infantry combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.  That includes British and American.  Often they are in severe firefights.  They do all sorts of jobs, such as medics, intelligence, public affairs (that’s right), “female engagement teams,” civil affairs, pilots, or sometimes they go on missions just to search women.  Bottom line is that they end up encountering a lot of bombs and firefights.

It’s saddening for this American to see women so often not appreciated for what they do.  Granted, there is not a huge number of women who do these things, but those who do have my respect and admiration.

Subsequent the recent Koran burning, most Afghans did nothing, but many lost their minds as some are inclined to do.  There was much violence.  Several dozen people have been killed so far.  On Monday, the Taliban attributed a substantial car bomb at FOB Fenty in Jalalabad to the Koran burning.  Nine were killed and about a dozen of ours were wounded.  (No US were killed in that attack to my knowledge.)

One of our wounded Soldiers was one of our Sisters at war.  Her father told me via email:

“Ok.  Just talked to her Mom. She's been evac'd to Bagram to the CSH [Combat Support Hospital].  She was in the turret of the MRAP when a black SUV came popped out of traffic and went barreling toward the gate.  Before anyone could do anything, it detonated.  She was blown backward into the rear of the turret and injured her back as well as having both eardrums blown out. Another kid, just arrived, was with her.  He took some fragments but will be OK.  Said she woke up on the ground and the gate was gone.  Apparently they secured it quickly enough that there was no further drama.

“Her Mom said she sounded as good as can be expected. She'll be there a couple of weeks then back to her unit to redeploy.”

And with that I will close with a big Thank You, and with respect and admiration for all of our warriors who serve honorably.  Today is a special thanks to women, but every day I say a “Thank You” to all of them.

Tigers, Crocodiles, Korans and Superstitions

29 Comments

20120208- 10D8189cc-1000-2Tiger eyes of man with fresh scars

“The Sundarbans lies in the massive delta between India and Bangladesh. This is one of the most beautiful but most dangerous places in the world, a place of tigers and crocodiles and dangerous seas and canals. Mamata is just one of about 3,000 ‘tiger widows’ in the Sundarbans.”

28 February 2012

When a man says, “It’s a jungle out there,” he means, “It’s the Sundarbans.”  Among the many wild and unforgiving places in the approximately 65 countries I’ve traveled, most are fairly safe when approached with good judgment and aforethought. The Sundarbans is not one of those places.  Few jungles are this dangerous.

The natives here rub shoulders with mortality on a daily basis.  And so before venturing into the labyrinth waterways, one should acquire a guide, which in my case was a government employee with a powerful FN-FAL rifle to ward off man and beast.  Competent, local guides are always your best insurance, and if I had a choice of any rifle in the world to bring here, the FN-FAL would be high on the list.  And so those boxes were checked.

Within about a week previous my arrival, eight people had been killed and more than a dozen wounded in personal combat with tigers.  Nobody knows why the tigers kill so many people here.  None of the eight people recently killed were eaten.  The tigers often devour their prey, but sometimes they just murder, and of course there is always a market for tiger parts.  It’s a bloody mess.

Read more: Tigers, Crocodiles, Korans and Superstitions

Our Weak Government Must Stop Apologizing for Criminal Behavior of Others

55 Comments

27 February 2012

The recent Koran-burning in Afghanistan has again inspired lunacy and murder.  And while the US civilian and military leadership burdened by their oleaginous apologies tumbles down a moral stairwell, Afghan security forces continue to murder American and Coalition troops.  Insider violence persists at an increasing rate.  Approximately 200 Coalition members have been killed or wounded in nearly fifty documented “green on blue” attacks.

Noticeably absent from the airwaves is a definitive apology from Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and a vow to fight this treachery committed by his troops.  Instead, we are likely to hear Karzai whining about night raids that his own troops help conduct every night.

We should immediately cut off all aid to Afghanistan until we hear a public apology from Karzai, and a denouncement from Karzai of Coalition murders by Afghan troops.  We should end all unnecessarily joint operations, training, and support of Afghan forces until we have public assurances from Karzai that the Afghan government strongly condemns the increasing murders of Coalition members.  Armed Afghans should not be allowed onto US aircraft.  Our people do missions every night with armed Afghans on our helicopters.  It would be nothing to take down a CH-47 from the inside.

It is time that we redeploy our main battle force home and disentangle ourselves from AfPak.

White Birds in a Red War

2 Comments

25 February 2012

An Army Dustoff pilot studying his art ran across some interesting passages.  The book DUST OFF: ARMY AEROMEDICAL EVACUATION IN VIETNAM mentions machine guns, missiles, Geneva Conventions, and painting MEDEVAC helicopters white so that the enemy could identify them.

Excerpts begin from page 85 (highlights are mine):

The return to single-ship missions demanded a few unorthodox procedures. International custom and the Geneva Conventions, which the United States considered itself bound to observe, dictated that an ambulance not carry arms or ammunition and not engage in combat. But in Vietnam the frequent enemy fire at air ambulances marked with red crosses made this policy unrealistic. Early in the war the crews started taking along .45-caliber pistols, M14 rifles, and sometimes M79 grenade launchers. The ground crews installed extra armor plating on the backs and sides of the pilots' seats.

Read more: White Birds in a Red War

Army Dustoff Medics Unprepared

34 Comments

“After more than 9 years of conflict and more than 40 AAR’s recommending the evolution of MEDEVAC to current civilian standards, no institutional change has been made. Continuing the legacy model has resulted and continues to result in documented sub-optimal outcomes and increased deaths among patients transported by helicopter in the current conflict.”

Robert L. Mabry, FS, EMT-P
Lieutenant Colonel, MC
JTTS Medical Director, Enroute Care

23 February 2012

The United States Army has failed with extraordinary dexterity while executing the helicopter MEDEVAC plan in Afghanistan.  On the surface, the Army advertisement campaign sells a story that their performance is exemplary and unprecedented in the history of war.  The press machine churns out sound bites, which are picked up in major media without the barest pretense of auditing.  For instance, senior Army officers saying and committing to writing that the Army has achieved a 92% success rate on MEDEVAC.  The Army peddles this message, and yet nobody says, “Show me the money.  Where do you get these figures?”  There is growing evidence that the 92% figure is hollow and fraudulent.

For instance, in an internal memorandum, the issue of poor or nonexistent tracking is repeatedly hammered:

Read more: Army Dustoff Medics Unprepared

A Hypothetical Interview General Martin Dempsey:

21 Comments

dempsey-and-campbell-1000

18 February 2012

General Martin Dempsey is the highest-ranking member of the US military.  He directly advises the President.  Lieutenant General John Campbell is Chief of Army Operations.  A bigwig.  Both men have publicly supported keeping Red Crosses on MEDEVAC helicopters that come under direct fire in Afghanistan.

Removing the Red Crosses does not force us to arm the helicopters.  But why not take the common-sense step of removing the Red Crosses so as not to alert the enemy that the helicopters are unarmed?  Many people want to know the answer.

In response to growing public concerns, Campbell has been interviewed on CBS and FOX, while Dempsey has written directly to Congressman Todd Akin.  Both Dempsey and Campbell have underlined the fallacy that it’s a good idea to alert the enemy that our MEDEVAC helicopters are unarmed.

And so, this morning, I made an imaginary phone call to General Dempsey and we conducted this hypothetical discussion:

Read more: A Hypothetical Interview General Martin Dempsey:

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